The U.S. Federal Government controls immigration policies, deciding which of the immigrants fleeing wars, poverty, and violence should be admitted to the United States. However, the burden of immigration largely falls on the states, especially until the status of new immigrants is decided. Given the backlog in the courts, this process could now take years.
While the Federal government controls the process, the burden falls unevenly on specific states and cities. In recent years, border cities especially in Texas, but also in Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Florida have been inundated with immigrants.
While the Federal government does provide some services, most of the costs are left to local cities, many of which cannot afford or effectively handle the influx. One only has to look at the pictures of thousands of immigrants sleeping on the streets of these cities to understand the stress immigrants place on these locales.
Recently, many of the states that have borne the greatest burden have taken to sending their overflow to cities like New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. These cities then must bear the costs of handling the influx. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has stated that immigrants will cost the city $2 billion a year. The Roosevelt Hotel, next to Grand Central Station, whose slogan was “where classic elegance meets contemporary luxury,” is now a shelter for asylum seekers.
To relieve some of this burden, Mayor Adams has attempted to send immigrants to the Hudson River Valley and Long Island, but these suburban locales are fighting to keep immigrants, invoking calls for NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).
While Texas and other border states, and New York and other major cities, are being inundated with immigrants, relatively few are being sent to states and cities in the Midwest and other parts of the country.
• Should individual states and cities have the right to get rid of some of their immigrants by sending them to other cities or suburban locations?
• Should cities and suburban locations have the right to refuse these immigrants?
• What is the role of the Federal Government?
– If it is selecting people for asylum, shouldn’t it also fund those cities and states for the costs of caring for the immigrants?
– Should the Federal Government develop a strategy that distributes the burden equitably?
• How do we balance the issue of Federal versus State and Local control?
Please join us at the next Brown Bag Lunch on Wednesday, June 21, at 12:30 pm where we will discuss the current immigration crisis and the powers and responsibilities of the Federal, State, and local governments.
This is a private, alumni-only, off-the-record discussion. The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers and participants and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of The Harvard Business School Club.
Participants must register by Noon on June 20th to receive details on joining the discussion. The Zoom link will be sent out 24 hours before the event.